Best Practices for Freelance Writers

Best Practices for Freelance Writers Working from Home , by Angie Picardo

When you work at home, freelance writing requires serious dedication and a passion for success.  Maintaining a professional workspace, honing your craft and generating a steady income are a delicate balancing act when you’ve got a family and other responsibilities to attend to.  Listed below are a few strategies for success as a freelance writer working from a virtual office job.

Ask yourself this: How do you increase productivity and the quality of your writing? Consider the following.

  • Tackling your most difficult assignment first will make the rest of your day seem like a breeze.  You’ll learn discipline and free yourself up for when you really need it.  Like good exercise, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and may be eager to tackle more work in your downtime.
  • Train yourself to seek out imperfections in all your writing.  Your emails and other correspondences should be treated as assignments.  Leave no room for error.  This will keep you sharp throughout the day and you will train yourself to be a grammatical perfectionist—a very necessary component of freelance writing.
  • Keep a calendar of all your deadlines, clients and contacts.  Make it a point to never miss a deadline or forget an assignment, no matter how busy you are.
  • Don’t let rejection beat you down.  So you wrote a bad article or story—everyone has.  Learn from your mistakes and take the defeat as a challenge to improve.  Step away from each assignment after completion and return to it after a while so you can edit your piece with a fresh perspective.
  • Keep a portfolio of your work available at all times.  Every once in a while look through your old work to find strengths and flaws.  How have you improved over six weeks?  Six months?  Six years?
  • Always write, whether its emails, grocery lists, or assignment edits, keep sharp at all times.  Keep a pen and paper on you at all times to jot down ideas, or purse through a pocket dictionary instead of playing Angry Birds at the doctor’s office.

Taking care of the kids, running errands, and keeping your daily routine is a demanding task, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out time to write. Now ask yourself: How do you balance working at home with your day to day schedule?

  • Get up early. Many writers wake up extra early and start their day with a solid hour of uninterrupted writing before doing anything else.  Once you get into your routine, it becomes difficult to stop.  By simply forcing yourself to crank out ideas right out of bed, your mind will be sharp and craving other opportunities during your downtime later in the day.
  • Organize. Keep your workspace area clean and organized.  You will want to create a space that is both comfortable and productive.  Keep reference materials, office supplies and equipment easily accessible, so that you can use them when you need them.  By creating a balanced space within your home, you can tap into “work mode,” and separate your home life from your craft.
  • Manage time. If you have children, set up play-dates or find chaperoned activities for them to occupy themselves with outside of the home.  If you can get even an extra hour or two a week to yourself, you can use the time to proof documents or test your spontaneity on new projects.

It doesn’t matter if you’re blogging, writing technical or professional documents, pumping out content to a demanding editor, editing documents, or trying to write that novel you’ve been putting off since college—a little consistency, dedication and time management make all the difference in the world.  So keep working at it and before long you’ll be reaping the rewards of a job well done.

Angie Picardo is a writer at Nerdwallet, a personal finance website that offers advice on topics ranging from working from home efficiently to comparing options for Midway airport Parking.

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